DÜSSELDORF — Despite the economic turmoil in Europe, U.S. brands exhibiting at GDS last week were enthusiastic about their prospects in the region.
Marc Fiebach, SVP of Jimlar Europe AG — which distributes American brands Frye, Calvin Klein and Rachel Zoe, among others — said the chilly economic climate is working in favor of established brands.
“We reassure [retailers] on quality, on delivery, on price,” Fiebach said. “The buyers are not looking to experiment. They’re looking to buy when they know they can trust who they’re buying from. It’s a lot about trust in Germany and other markets.”
Dan Ernens, a marketing director at Buttero, distributor of American-made brands such as Kork-Ease (which makes select styles stateside) and Walk Over, said U.S. players had an advantage over European brands at the fair, thanks to of-the-moment trends.
“The concept that goes very well right now in Europe is the made-in-the-USA factor. It elevates the product,” he said. “The consumer is interested in authenticity. It’s just one ingredient, but it cannot be overlooked.”
U.S. buyers said European brands are targeting the American market like never before, due to the turmoil at home.
“In the past, they didn’t care much about the American customer,” said Morris Rouah, a buyer at Goodman & Dominguez Inc., which operates 100 stores in the U.S. “They concentrated more on the European customer. Now that they see that the number of European customers has decreased, they’re very attentive.”
On the trend front, Rouah and Iuri Goodman, who owns Goodman & Dominguez, said they are excited about shoes in an array of colors and styles, accentuated with embellishments such as nails and studs for next season.
“We just saw a change in colors to pastels, which haven’t been around for seven or eight years,” said Goodman.
Other trends include sporty styles, metallics and tribal looks.
Buyers were also upbeat about the innovation on display, calling out Snipe, the Spanish shoe brand, which unveiled a fully biodegradable leather shoe, designed with the University of Vigo in Spain. The shoe is constructed with stitching and residue-free glue and decomposes completely in 180 days.